Employers receive an average of 60 applicants for every advertisement for a low-skilled job, and 20 for every skilled job.
Significantly, almost half of these candidates are perfectly suitable for the role, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
So that makes their CV - or curriculum vitae - all the more important when attempting to stand out from the crowd.
Experts say there are some golden rules for getting a CV correct, not least accuracy, spelling and grammar.
Don't repeat the mistakes, they say, of a lawyer who stressed his "dew diligence", or the applicant who ignored commas when describing his interests as "cooking dogs and interesting people".
If sending a CV as a hard copy, along with a job application, then it needs to be neat and typed if possible. Most libraries have public computers which can be used by those who do not have their own.
Increasingly, applicants are asked to send a digital copy of a CV. If this is the case then the first set of "eyes" to see it might be an automated search for key words, so experts suggest applicants ensure mandatory requirements in the job advert are included in a CV.
Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management, which provides career coaching, says that digital CVs should be in a simple format and font so readability is not affected on different screens.
Other tips from Mrs Mills, the CIPD, and the National Careers Service include:
- Tailor a CV to a specific job - it is vital to ensure the script is relevant to each job application, rather than sending the same generic CV
- Keep it simple - it should be easy to read and use active language. Two pages of A4 is enough with a mini profile included in the first half page
- Include key information - personal details, including name, address, phone number, email address and any professional social media presence should be clear. A date of birth is no longer needed, owing to age discrimination rules. A photo is only essential for jobs such as acting and modelling, otherwise it is a matter of choice
- Showcase achievements - offer evidence of how targets were exceeded and ideas created, but always be honest
- Check and double check - avoid sloppy errors, take a fresh look the next day and ask for a second opinion from a trusted friend or colleague